Road cross­ing cam­paign steps up af­ter yet an­other near miss

The Oban Times - - News - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

A DIS­ABLED woman who re­ceived ‘an­other ter­ri­ble fright’ as she tried to cross the A830 with her guide dog be­lieves there are no ex­cuses left to jus­tify not in­stalling a con­trolled cross­ing on the no­to­ri­ous road.

Banavie res­i­dent An­nette Hob­son, who is reg­is­tered blind and has some trou­ble hear­ing, says she has been cam­paign­ing for a con­trolled cross­ing for 10 years. How­ever, the is­sue came to the fore once more when she was in­volved in a near miss on the Fort Wil­liam to Mal­laig stretch near the swing bridge last week.

Ms Hob­son said it is lu­di­crous that there is noth­ing to help pedes­tri­ans cross this road safely, but said the fact that work on the road was be­ing car­ried out, dis­rupt­ing the usual traf­fic flow, made the sit­u­a­tion even more dan­ger­ous for her and her dog, Caramel.

She told The Oban Times: ‘I have some use of my eyes but I could not see any signs. The road should have been taped off to pre­vent peo­ple cross­ing. It re­ally is a mir­a­cle noth­ing more se­ri­ous has hap­pened.

‘There is con­struc­tion work un­der way to build stores in Fort Wil­liam on North Road and my un­der­stand­ing is there will be a cross­ing put there, yet the road here and also near the Co- op in Cor­pach are no­to­ri­ous for pedes­tri­ans, but it seems BEAR and Trans­port Scot­land don’t want to pay the money.’

The is­sue was again dis­cussed at the Kil­mallie Com­mu­nity Coun­cil (KCC) meet­ing on Mon­day Jan­uary 23.

The KCC noted that they had still not re­ceived a re­sponse from BEAR Scot­land with re­gard to a pedes­trian sur­vey that was car­ried out near the Banavie swing bridge last year.

Chair­woman Chris­tine Hutchi­son said: ‘An­nette is prob­a­bly one of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple when cross­ing the road but this is an is­sue which af­fects lots of peo­ple.’

Sergeant An­drew Bil­ton was at the meet­ing and ex­plained that the sta­tis­tics cover­ing how many ac­ci­dents have hap­pened in the area would need to be con­sid­ered. He said: ‘Near misses are not recorded with us. Peo­ple don’t con­tact us and say, “I was al­most in an ac­ci­dent”.’

The com­mu­nity coun­cil also said that if cost is the rea­son why BEAR Scot­land can­not put in a cross­ing, then it would need to look at other ways of fund­ing one.

Emma Brown is an en­gage­ment of­fi­cer with the Guide Dogs As­so­ci­a­tion and she has been sup­port­ing An­nette fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent last week.

She told The Oban Times: ‘Con­trolled cross­ings pro­vide a level of cer­tainty about when it is safe to cross the road, par­tic­u­larly for peo­ple with sight loss. Guide Dogs Scot­land sup­ports the in­stal­la­tion of a con­trolled cross­ing at Banavie to al­low all res­i­dents, in­clud­ing those with sight loss and other dis­abil­i­ties, to ac­cess their lo­cal com­mu­nity safely.’

A spokesper­son for BEAR Scot­land told The Oban Times: ‘ We’re sorry to hear about Mrs Hob­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence last week. A squad was car­ry­ing out drainage works near Banavie swing bridge on the A830 on Jan­uary 17.

‘The works in­volved a lane clo­sure us­ing tem­po­rary traf­fic sig­nals. Signs were in place ask­ing pedes­tri­ans to wait for a banks­man at ei­ther end of the site. One of the team had noted Mrs Hob­son with her guide dog and was run­ning to­wards her to of­fer as­sis­tance when she at­tempted to cross. He as­sisted her af­ter the in­ci­dent. These works are now com­plete.

‘A study is cur­rently be­ing un­der­taken by Trans­port Scot­land to look at pedes­trian pro­vi­sion on this sec­tion of the A830. The study is ex­pected to be com­pleted over the com­ing few months. We’ll then be able to re­port on the find­ings to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.’

An­nette Hob­son with her dog Caramel be­side the busy A830.

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